Thursday, June 9, 2016

On Transiting Saturn


I'd been slacking on keeping up with planetary transits and personal horoscopes for a while, but lately, I've been making it a point to keep track again. Since I learned so much more about it years ago, astrology has been immensely helpful when it comes to managing my life. When I'm not really keeping up with it the way I normally would, I feel like my inner compass isn't really getting all the guidance that it's used to. I feel ready to get back to recording what's going on in my life as they relate to the forces at work the way I used to way back when.

Apparently Saturn is transiting my 10th house of honors right now and it will be doing that until December of 2017. Among other things, this aspect brings with it a greater focus on career and overall life path. I would say that explains a lot, as I've been more serious about and focused on work-related things than I normally would be. I'd typically be more wary of a Saturn-based aspect like this one, as Saturn and I never really agreed on what's best for me or my life in the past, but so far the whole thing's been quite positive. 

A lot has been changing in regards to my professional life lately without me having to force it. I've actually been doing copywriting work that's in line with my real passions for a change -- something I've been fighting for for years, but could never quite make happen. For instance, I have been writing menu and restaurant copy for a major restaurant chain. I've also been producing loads of content for a publishing house that specializes in regional history and local interest books. I'm still not always raring to work or anything, but I've been feeling a lot more invested in the work I'm doing because of the changes in subject matter. These are industries and topics I really truly care about and with which I feel proud to be involved.

I've also been exposed to lots and lots of possible publishing opportunities for my personal work lately. And they're paying opportunities attached to generous sums. Admittedly, I have yet to actually sit down and do much about them, but I've never had an actual list of paying outlets to consider before either. With such an overabundance of paying copywriting work out there, I've never felt like I could justify blowing much of my "writing energy" on opportunities that don't pay. It felt self-indulgent and like kind of a waste of time. 

The possibility of actually being paid for fiction, poetry, or personal essays changes that state of affairs considerably. I feel like I have permission to actually spend time on those things again and this whole Saturn transit thing makes me feel like I should. Mars will be out of retrograde on June 26, so that should help considerably with actually drive, motivation, and energy as well.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Post-Easter Ruminations


So it's the week after Easter Sunday and I have a bit of the post-holiday blues that I always get going on after we've just had a special occasion. I had originally planned on starting back to work promptly on Monday, but I actually wound up taking kind of a mental health day instead, since I didn't have so much on the books this week that that wasn't feasible. I honestly didn't feel all that great and I most definitely didn't feel like working, so I decided to just... spend a day transitioning. It helped, I think.

It's not just that I miss having Easter to look forward to either. I actually miss Lent as well. Sometimes I feel like I must be the only person in the world that must feel this way, but there's something about Lent that I really like. I'm not normally the type of person that's enthusiastic about limiting myself or striving to be better and more diligent in general, but Lent brings that side of me out in a way that feels natural and positive. I'm realizing that I like that motivated side of myself when it surfaces under the right conditions, which is surprising when you consider how I feel toward the whole New Year's resolution thing.

I guess New Year's resolutions don't feel like there's much of a point to them. You're trying to change something about your life and become a better person... but why? To better live up to society's standards as far as what you should weigh or how much money you should earn? I don't think I like the way most people's approaches to their resolutions aren't realistic either. People talk about making these sweeping changes as far as their lives go and think they're magically going to be able to maintain those changes indefinitely. I guess I like that Lent has a set start date and end date. 

After Lent's over, you get to look at the changes you made, assess whether or not they were useful to you, and decide on your own if you'd like to continue. Plus, there's an actual point to doing it beyond "well, people try to better themselves this time of year, so I guess I will too". You're looking to get closer to God, remember what's actually important in life, and at least temporarily remove things from the equation that might be keeping you from doing those things. Maybe that's not a motivator for some people, but it really seems to be for me.

That said, I did fantastic in regards to sticking to the goals I set for myself this year. I did everything that I said I was going to do in the previous post where I talked about my Lenten intentions for the season. Some of it -- like the reduction in the frequency of my alcohol-drinking days -- worked out so well that I'll probably stick with it for the most part. I felt great, I found it easier to be productive, and I think I even lost a few pounds. I feel like Lent helped me in the way that it's supposed to and I'm proud of that. It makes me wish I'd had more positive exposure to religion at other points in my life. It probably would have been very helpful. 

On a slight side note, I've been finding myself wondering what my grandparents (or any of my more exemplary ancestors) would have thought of me if they could know me today. Would they be proud of me? Would they actually be glad they were related to me? It's neither here nor there, but I don't feel like I've ever been someone that my immediate family members were really proud to know and to be associated with because of who I really am as a person. It would be nice to think that there might be some little part of me that inspired that feeling in a relative, even if they're no longer around.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

On Lent and Seasonal Goal Setting


Time certainly does fly. In particular, I can't believe another Lent has officially begun. I don't know if it's just because active Christianity is still relatively new to me or what, but I actually don't dread Lent the way I remember a lot of my friends doing when I was growing up. Maybe it's because I tend to be a little too self-indulgent these days. I feel like I'm in perpetual need of a cleansing and Lent seems to be the perfect time for that. Cleansing is never easy, but it always makes me feel amazing -- physically and mentally, as well as spiritually.

Last year, I certainly observed Lent, but I'm not sure how well I really did with some of my more tentative goals. Even though I fasted, gave something up for the season, and abstained when I was supposed to, I didn't really feel like I did enough. I'm not sure what I thought was missing, but I personally just felt like I should be doing more. That said, I thought it might help if this year I actually wrote some of my goals down. When I make a promise to myself or express a goal in writing, it always feels more "real" to me than it does if I don't.

On Sharing Faith and Beliefs

Seth and I usually give up pizza for Lent and with good reason. It's something we both enjoy and miss when we're not allowed to have it. It's also something we're excited to have back when Lent is over. Best of all, it's a sacrifice we can make together and I like that. I'm realizing that one of the main reasons I never really developed a deeper spiritual life before despite being a spiritual person is that I was trying to do it alone the way I felt like I had to do everything for so long. 

When I first developed an interest in exploring this path, it didn't even occur to me to talk much to Seth about it. I'm always concerned with coming across like I'm pushing people to change to be more like me, so I'm overcautious about not shoving my beliefs or intentions in other people's faces. However, when he did express an interest in being part of this and in doing some of it with me regardless (years ago at this point), I realized that in keeping my spiritual life too much to myself, I was actually excluding him without meaning to. I don't want to rob anyone of the opportunity to be included if they actually want to. 

I think that might have been part of my reason for expanding the subject matter of this blog beyond just theosophical thoughts or astrology to include personal spirituality as well. These blogs I keep are mostly for my own benefit and self-expression, but since I make them public, I've been trying to make sure I'm being open enough about what I'm doing in my spiritual life at a given time. I'm especially trying to keep that in mind as we start another Lent and look for areas in my life where I could stand to be more open about my faith.

On Being Less Excessive

Another thing I definitely need to get better about is taking care myself, especially physically. To begin with, I need to lose some weight and get in better shape. I'm just a little bit too fat right now and that's been the case for a couple of years now. However, I have yet to really get as serious as I should about fixing it. I figure Lenten fasting is a great opportunity to do some work there.

This year, I'm really going to focus on fasting to the greatest extent possible, almost letting it double as a bit of a diet. I'll be eating my one meal a day at night. I will most likely also want to eat the one or two smaller meals I'm allowed according to fasting rules. However, I'm going to try to keep especially the smaller meals light -- ideally just some fruit, vegetables, or something else healthy. We get a CSA box from one of our local farms now, so there's always plenty of fresh produce in the house, which makes it easier.

I also need to drink a lot less. Truth be told, I probably should have given up alcohol for Lent instead of pizza, as it's probably the closest thing I have to an actual bad habit, but I wasn't so sure how ready for that I really was. (Maybe next year.) However, I definitely do plan on putting strict limits on how much I drink this Lent for sure. I plan on being completely abstinent more days than I currently am, as well as having only prudent amounts of alcohol on the days I do drink. It's my goal not to binge drink at all or drink to the point of actually being drunk.

I also need to start exercising more and taking more consistent care of my hair, skin, nails, and so forth. However, for now I think I'll focus on getting the eating, drinking, and excess weight stuff under control. Then I can add to it once I've cleaned house in some of the more critical areas. Rome wasn't built in a day, so I'm trying to remember that and not be too hard on myself.

On Being More Industrious

I've been reading a lot of spiritual material about the importance of having a proper work/life balance lately and although it pains me to admit it, I see a lot of room for self-improvement there. I don't have any problem making enough time for self-care, personal time, or time off the way a lot of people do. My problem is the constant resentment I harbor toward having to work at all. Truth be told, I wouldn't work or contribute to society in any way if I didn't need the money and I'm aware that that's not in line with what God asks of people. 

It's no one job or situation that causes these feelings either, just so we're clear. It really is working period. This is nothing recent. In fact, I've been this way my entire life. I do work, but it's solely because I wouldn't have money to live otherwise. I know damn well that my first instinct if I won the lottery tomorrow would be to quit copywriting and ghostwriting on the spot, probably without even giving my clients proper notice. As it is, I also have to admit that I work as little as possible. If I have a decent amount of money in my account, I'll immediately start getting excited about how much extra time off I can afford to take and I'll start saying no to more of the assignments I'm offered than I really need to for actual time reasons. 

I have no idea how one goes about changing one's attitude toward something like that, but I know I should at least be attempting to. At present, I just try to remind myself that when I sit down to work on my projects, I don't have to think of it as thanklessly serving some other human being that really doesn't appreciate me the way they should. I can think of it as doing something God would like me to do instead. I can remind myself of the ways the things I do help to make the world a more positive place.

I've also been reading about God-given talents and how important it is to make sure you're developing those and using them for the glory of God. Admittedly, I'm very stingy with my talents because I don't feel like other people deserve to benefit from them. I develop and utilize them only for my own amusement -- never to better the lives of other people or make the world a better place. I know I should think more about that this Lent. I suppose blogging more often where people can see is at least a start though.

On Being More Prayerful

I'm also focusing on making time for more spiritual reading and personal devotions this Lent. I used to be better about praying the rosary and some of my other chaplets on a daily basis, but I've fallen out of the habit and now only really do it occasionally. I've been actively focusing on spending more time on things like that lately and plan on continuing to do so throughout Lent. It's also been a while since I memorized any new prayers, so I will be looking to do some more there as well.

Such things really help me, not only spiritually, but mentally as well. I feel calmer and more mentally clear when I spend more of my time praying or when I make time for prayer multiple times a day. Work seems less stressful and a positive attitude about life in general seems easier to maintain. I'm looking forward to getting back to that, as well as making the other positive changes in my life as detailed above. With any luck, this Lent will be a refreshment that I could really use right about now.

Monday, January 18, 2016

We Are the Soul Eggs

Egg World -- BradleyBlazed
David Bowie's death a little over a week ago has had me thinking a lot about mortality. As is the case when such things are on my mind, I've been having some odd dreams. Some of them make sense and others? Not so much.

The other night I dreamed about the nature of the soul. It was something that lived in a little egg inside of your chest. As you approached the time of your death, you felt the little creature inside the egg starting to stir as it prepared to be born. Then when your time actually came, it would pass through the front of your chest with this tremendous explosion of energy -- a little like a cough. The soul itself looked exactly like a tiny bird made of yellow light and would go flying toward heaven without any fear or confusion. It just knew where it was, where it was going, and why. It was the person at their most evolved and complete.

Unlike a lot of people, I dream about my own death a lot, but rarely in a scary or negative way, so I'm not surprised that I dreamed about the moment my soul egg hatched. The night before, I knew it would happen soon because the little light bird inside was incredibly active, trying to break free. It twisted and pecked at the shell of the egg, very eager to be hatched. It felt odd emotionally -- both the saddest you ever felt and the most hopeful you ever felt all at once.

I spent a long time telling Seth how much I loved him because of how strongly I could feel the bird. Then the next morning, I was making breakfast in a red dress and the egg hatched. My body dropped to the floor like a pile of old rags and I zoomed out of my own chest as this bird. I still remember the feeling -- very odd, but not negative in the least. I wonder if David Bowie felt anything like that when his time came. Maybe. Perhaps he'll tell me one day if he decides he feels like it.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Kintsukuroi: Finding Beauty in the Breakdown

I've always been the type of person that has a lot of questions. I like to know how things work and why the world is the way it is. I like the process of contemplating and attempting to understand other people as well. Finally finding out "why" -- or feeling like I'm close to figuring it out -- is really one of the only ways I'm able to make peace with some of the things that bother me, especially as they relate to other people.

That said, all this Bible study, and Mass, and prayer has made me realize that I have a lot of questions for God. I'm not talking about the questions most people have either -- like why he allows things like war, and famine, and premature death. My questions are more personal in nature. They relate to my own life, who I was as a person, and who I am now.

If you asked me to give you one reason why I rejected the idea of trying to develop a closer relationship with God for so much of my life, I'd tell you that it's because I was sure he didn't like me. I felt that if God cared so much about me the way he's supposed to, my life would have been better than it has been. I wouldn't have had to struggle so hard. My parents would have been more accepting of me and more interested in me as a person. They would have been considerably more interested in making an investment in the lives of their children than they were. I'd have had more of the things that I wanted out of life and less of the rejection, and pain, and damaging interaction with others that was there in spades. I even occasionally thought that God hated me and that he wanted me to suffer and be miserable. Why would I want to get closer to a being like that?

Then I read something in one of my devotionals a long while back that shed some light on why I might assume such things about God so readily. It had something to do with how most people think of God the same way they think of their parents. If you were the apple of your parents' eyes, if you felt like they loved you totally and accepted you for who you were, then you're more likely to assume that God also loves and accepts you. If you feel like your parents saw you as a fuck-up and a disappointment -- like you had to be something incredibly specific in order to be loved -- then you're more likely to think God feels that way about you, too.

The devotional went on to explain why this way of thinking is flawed. If God made you, then you can absolutely assume that God knew what he was getting beforehand. He knew how you were going to turn out and he foresaw all the spectacular fucking up you were going to accomplish. Your parents didn't. They rolled the dice when they decided to have a child and if you didn't fit the fantasy picture they had in their heads of what you'd be like, it's perfectly possible that they just didn't really like you and felt disappointed.

Even if your parents didn't want you though, God did. Even if your parents' love and acceptance is very conditional, God's isn't. That was a pretty powerful thing for me to consider and I think it represented a breakthrough for me. I read that and first considered what it might mean several years ago, so it's been marinating for a while. I loathe myself so much less than I used to. I no longer have that impression of myself as someone that doesn't deserve anything good. I think that may be the first time in my life I really imagined that I might be loved and accepted by someone that had a hand in making me. I've stopped blaming God for mistakes my parents, or teachers, or other people have made as a result.

........

A long time ago, I read about the art of kintsukuroi as specified in my little graphic up there. I remember thinking at the time that that was such a beautiful thing and I knew there was a metaphor in there  for me somewhere. Then I saw the subject come up again in a psychology today article I read that was aimed at daughters (and sons as well, but mostly daughters) that felt like they weren't really loved or valued that much by their parents, both as a child and later on as an adult. 

I liked the idea of equating myself to one of those bowls the way the author suggested. I liked the idea of letting the things that have happened to you make you stronger, more beautiful, and more valuable than you might have been before. I needed to hear that that's not only OK, but preferable, because I've never been the kind of person that can let go of things from the past. Those things broke me in a way and I'm well aware that I'll never be the same. 

Maybe that's the point. Maybe that's what God was doing when he gave me the life I've had or let me go through some of the things he did. Maybe I was meant to be like one of those gorgeous Japanese bowls -- one of a kind and astonishingly beautiful in my own way. After all, if God didn't love me, he wouldn't have given me my relationship. If God didn't care about me, there wouldn't have been so many times when we've been able to score literally the last Bessie's Revenge at the store on a Friday or bag of black-eyed peas right before New Year's. If God didn't want me, I wouldn't be here. 

Thursday, December 17, 2015

On the Value of Living Authentically


The following quote flew through my Facebook feed this morning and was attributed to Keanu Reeves. I have zero idea if Keanu really said any of that (probably not), but I agree with it wholeheartedly either way. It perfectly describes where I'm at mentally and emotionally as far as my feelings about living life.
"My friend's mom has eaten healthy all her life. Never ever consumed alcohol or any "bad" food, exercised every day, very limber, very active, took all supplements suggested by her doctor, never went in the sun without sunscreen and when she did it was for as short a period as possible- so pretty much she protected her health with the utmost that anyone could. She is now 76 and has skin cancer, bone marrow cancer and extreme osteoporosis.
My friend's father eats bacon on top of bacon, butter on top of butter, fat on top of fat, never and I mean never exercised, was out in the sun burnt to a crisp every summer, he basically took the approach to live life to his fullest and not as others suggest. He is 81 and the doctors says his health is that of a young person.
People you cannot hide from your poison. It's out there and it will find you so in the words of my friend's still living mother: " if I would have known my life would end this way I would have lived it more to the fullest enjoying everything I was told not to!"
None of us are getting out of here alive, so please stop treating yourself like an after thought. Eat the delicious food. Walk in the sunshine. Jump in the ocean. Say the truth that you’re carrying in your heart like hidden treasure. Be silly. Be kind. Be weird. There’s no time for anything else."

Honestly, I have no interest in living to be super old at any cost. I've never dreamed of making it to 100 just because. Given the choice, I'd far rather live a short life the way I want to than a long one filled with restrictions and missed experiences. I'm only 39, but I'm old enough to already have a few regrets to look back on. I can assure you they are not the regrets other people swore I would have by this age when I was younger.

I regret not living authentically a lot sooner in life. I regret saying "no" to so many things that potentially would have been fun because I was too worried about what other people would think. I regret spending too much time and money worrying about appearances and collecting "things" that I no longer care about instead of investing more in experiences and making memories. I regret not saying "no" to people, commitments, and relationships I didn't want in my life so that I could say "yes" to the ones I did want. I will probably always regret those things because I will never get my teens or my 20s back and I hate that I didn't spend those years actually enjoying being young.

I do not and never will regret eating as many burgers and hot dogs as I wanted at Fourth of July barbecues. I don't regret the chances I took on people that intrigued me, even in the instances things didn't work out. I don't regret the times I flat-out refused to let other people make me feel like I have to apologize for who I am. I don't regret having been someone that actually takes the time to stop and smell the roses. I don't regret saying "yes" to bacon, and sex, and laughter, and art, and love. I never will.

I guess only God knows how and when I'm destined to leave the planet. I will graciously accept however many years he decides I belong in this body and living this life. However, should God's plan actually see me living to be 90 or 100, I fully intend to be able to say that I lived my life the way I wanted to. That I ate well, laughed a lot, and spent my days as joyfully as possible.